The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First bread

scsunshine's picture

First bread

I decided to try and make homemade bread, seeing as the cost of the ingredients is less than paying for bread at the store. I have only made regular bread once, when I was very young and it was more than 20 years ago.

I started with the "lesson one" recipe, since the cost of ingredients was minimal, and if I messed it up I wouldnt be out much. After reading some other blogs and other website tips on succsessful bread making, I think the experience turned out well enough for me to want to attempt again!

Although the instructions in lesson one are nice, I do think there are somethings that need to be detailed and somethings that need altered. This is what I did.

  • Reduce salt from 2 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp. I felt it would have made the bread too salty. I have been baking other for a long time and never use salt in the recipes, but I figured it was needed in bread.

  • Mix the salt in with the flour. When baking, I usualy mix dry ingredients first, it seems to make it much easier to ensure that the ingredients are more thoughouly mixed. However, after reading some tips, I did find that this is the best way, as mixing salt with the active yeast packets will actuall kill off the yeast.

  • I used Fleishmans dry active yeast packet. I followed the instructions on the back of the package to proof the yeast. To "proof" yeast add it to 1/4 cup water (100-110 degrees F) and 1 tsp sugar. I used a candy thermometer to make sure the temp was with in range. My water temp was 105-106. The yeast will sit for ten minutes. Since it was very cold today, i thought the water would cool quickly, so I added the same 110 warm water to a large bowl and placed the cup of yeast inside to keep it warm. After ten minutes it was very frothy on top and watery on the bottom.

  • I used warm water to add to the flour, 100-110 degrees F. I didnt add it all at once, but rather had it in a measuring cup to add slowly. I did have to add about 1/3 cup more water than recommend, and then added a small handful of flour.

As I was mixing the flour with water, I noticed that the dough was very sticky and it was clinging to my fingers. So I added a bit more flour until i was able to pick it up with out it sticking to my hands, but yet it still felt "wet"

I also used a glaze mix of one egg white and a splash of milk.


Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Doing things as done in lesson one works. Doing things the way that you mention works. Either way, everything turns out good in the end.

Since I started with lesson one I've changed and tweaked the recipe to my own liking.  Adding a little water for a higher hydration and adding a little bit (ie, 1/2 cup) of whole wheat flour is one of my favorite variations. I generally also add a little bit of honey when I do this.  Another thing I've done is to use a poolish (cup of flour, 3/4 cup water, 1/8 teaspoon yeast) to get a more complex flavor.  I reduce the amount of yeast used in the final dough when I do this: I've had good success with 1.5 teaspoons of active dry.